Dear Friend,

I have always loved music. When I was little we had this Volkswagen Minibus that had a control panel full of CDs (My dad is a resourceful sparktologist, and yes that IS a technical term) and I remember driving through the streets of Phoenix rocking out to Jimmie Vaughan’s “Boom-Bapa-Boom” at a very young age. I grew up with an eclectic mix of music. We weren’t the kind of family that had “every album ever made” by some favorite artist, in fact, I’m pretty sure that the only music artists we had more than one CD of was Third Day and Hikkup/HeatherClarkBand… but oh, did we have variety. At a young age I was listening to musicians like Rockin’ Sydney, Johnny Cash, The B-52’s, Suzanne Vega, George Thorogood, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dick Dale, and Mary Jane Lamond switching back and forth between the genres seamlessly. Today when people ask what kind of music I like, I usually “A little bit of everything” to which no one is ever satisfied with and I end up saying something to the likes of “I tend to go for more alternative groups…” when the truth is, I’ll listen to anything that matches how I feel.

It wasn’t until the 3rd grade or so that I actually started listening to the radio aka. listened to something other than what my parents had laying around the house… Access to musical exploration expanded upon my love of music, but surprisingly hasn’t become an obsession. A few days ago I realized that some of my favorite CDs from my childhood… and even from the last few years were still restrained in the CD form because I hadn’t digitized them in any way. Thus, project “Put CDs on iTunes” was born, and yesterday I put about 30 CDs on my computer…I think anyone who knows me would be surprised by the size of my music collection… because it’s relatively small. Or I think so. Part of that is that I try not to illegally download, especially anything more than a song here or there… and I don’t like spending money on anything I can get for free… so I live off of sites like Pandora, Spotify, and Noisetrade. That said, I still like hearing new things (including older stuff I’ve never heard) and enjoy adding a favorite song or two to my collection from time to time. I’m not, however, someone who keeps a record of artist names/albums/songs in my head… I just don’t have a passion for it. I know music with my ears, heart, and voice… not my brain. You could name a song that I love, and I might not realize it until you, in saying “I’m surprised you haven’t heard of this, it sounds like something you’d love…” start to play it and I suddenly realize that I do in fact know the song and have been enjoying it for months. But I also don’t store things like movie quotes in my head (unless they’re part of my family’s collection of frequently used lines… ie: “I know he can get the job, but can he DO the job…”) so perhaps that just isn’t how my brain works.

Music isn’t just something I listen to, it’s something I do. I love singing with a passion. I spent 5 years in the local children’s choir, and was a part of my high school’s touring choir my senior year and in the process I fell in love with singing and how it feels to manipulate the sound that comes through my vocal chords. I love songs like “Run To You” by Pentatonix because I love singing along and hearing the harmonies. And I LOVE harmonies. My favorite songs to sing are full of harmony ranging from simple to complex, subtle, to overt. When I said I’ll listen to anything that matches how I feel, this is what what I meant… music can be everything from hauntingly simple, to layered and complex (either with harmony, or through rhythms and a variety of instruments) and some days I want music that feels like it’s floating in the air around me but sometimes I want something with strong bass and percussion that will make your heart dance. But my love of singing, and of words, has made vocals one of the best parts. Lyrics I can relate to some part of my life can make me love a long 10x more, hearing an artist’s passion through their voice, finding a song I can sing along to with similar passion… that is where my heart lies.

Lots of Love, Mandi Jo